We drove up north to see Myrtle Beach and spent time at Broadway on the Beach. This was not for me. I am glad we did not stay up in this area. This is where our original planning started for this trip looking at North Myrtle Beach… and even when we decided on Pawleys I was hesitant. In our family we take turns picking vacation spots ..this was not my year. However Pawelys Island is a world away and is truly a nature lovers paradise and perfect for families like ours who prefer things quiet. Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park serve as a crossover from one world to the next. (… however I must add my teen was deeply disappointed that we did not have time to visit the Ripleys Aquarium… so keep that in mind for a day trip if heading up north to the busy area.)
This is an amazing park with so much to see and do! Earlier in the week we went to do the kayaing but now we have returned to explore! As you enter on the causeway, On one side you have freshwater and on the other saltwater. There are so many birds! I read over 300 species have been recored here! It was neat to explore the winter retreat of Anna Hyatt Huntington and her husband after seeing her work at Brookgreen – what a unique home and neat to learn about how it was built (without any plans!). The park is owned by Brookgreen Gardens and leased to the state of SC. What is really neat is to walk down the historic road (no longer used to enter the park) with fresh water lagoons on either side – this is where I got to see my first baby alligator. The Kerrigan Nature Trail takes you right to the freshwater lagoon where we saw several alligators on land and in the water. How amazing is that 2,500 acres of ocean front property have been preserved for all to enjoy?
Third visit. Yep. On our second visit the bartender remembered our name. There is nothing better to feel, if just for a fleeting temporary moment, like a local in a place where you would love to move. For us, Quigley’s gave that to us. The beer is perfect to quench your thirst in the heat (reaching close to 100 on this day), the happy hour is the most gracious I’ve ever encountered, and the food is the perfect low country inspired comfort food. Going here we were surrounded by those who lived here, and although I’m sure our accent quickly alerted we were not locals, it still felt good to feel like we were one of them.
Although our plan was to get up early and begin our drive to our vacation destination, we decided we could not miss two final stops in RVA to tour by car. Our helpful guide at the Visitor Center mapped out the best way see them and get to them. First stop was to follow the blue loop road around Hollywood Cemetery passing Historic Grave Sites – including two presidents. (Next visit we will definitely take one of the walking tours) Just wish we had known about this great map – to identify what we were seeing. Next we did a drive through of Memorial Drive – quick for by that time we were starving! We decided to once again venture into one of the neighborhoods for food. Clearly this is where the life is in RVA. – We headed into Carytown and quickly found an incredible lunch experience.. Can Can Brasserie – very well themed (I just love that), with delicious food and great service. Excellent! Good selection of Beer on tap and in bottles too… I passed for it was too early for me. However I left with a huge loaf of French Bread! Yum! We hit the road, sad to leave for there was so much more to do. I will be back to this city… but would pick another place to stay. Parking is abundant and so no worries if staying outside of the city and driving in to the see the sites (many of them will pay for your parking!)
It turned out working well for there was not much see to along the way. We had planned to stop in Wilmington NC to see where they film the Dome but the traffic was bad and Matilda (our GPS) diverted us another way down a lonely rode through the countryside. With little to see but crop after crop of tobacco (at the time we had no idea what it was) — Our one stop was for our first batch of Boiled Peanuts along with some local produce.
What a long drive! Did not arrive until close to midnight so we slept in this morning… This was easy to do even in a second floor room – we were amazed just how quiet the city streets were on a Friday. After leaving the hotel, we quickly realized we were in a bit of a dead zone – no government building, no office building, only one other hotel, and very few buildings that contained some sort of business. It was impossible to find a cup of coffee and a bakery item. There are so many neat neighborhoods that I learned about from a cousin who lives in the area… but the hotel is not in one of them! We stopped at my usual first and favorite stop – The Visitors Center – for a map. Amazing help in planning out our short time. We decided to follow the Liberty Trail – something they are just starting and it is really neat. Check it out here: http://www.visitrichmondva.com/things-to-do/local-tours/liberty-trail/
We diverted off the trail to go up to the Observation Deck in City Hall (thanks to the tip from our helpful Visitor Center guide)! It was really neat to get a bird’s eye view of the city. (Picture is taken from up there.)
One of our historical stops was a visit to the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. This included a guided tour of the house by a great tour guide. He really knew his stuff! Museum had a lot of neat stuff – we liked the downstairs full of oddities – like this doll that
was used to smuggle medicine. We then followed the trail to the Virginia State Capital and Executive Mansion. We were amazed to be the only people wandering around!
After a day of history, we decided to finish by wandering down the huge hill all the way to the Canal. Shockhoe Slip neighborhood is super neat with lots of shops, people, and places to eat, and try out the local beer. Southern Railway Taphouse was the just the right spot — Relaxed environment – not yet crowded so we were able to sit at a high top with our daughter. Great deals on lunch and beer for it was happy hour! (Service not so great but that did not matter for did not mind the wait)
Not much to do around the hotel so we enjoyed an evening swim. There was one neat spot – Pasture – had some good local beers and food (boiled peanut hummus – yum!) to eat!
Headed on a family road trip down south. Looking forward to some good family downtime at the beach in South Carolina. Lots of fun outdoor adventures planned, low country cuisine and lots of fresh seafood. Being a late starting journey we will drive straight to halfway point of Richmond VA. Looking forward to checking out this city for the first time. Plan to begin this journey with exploring civil war history, eating southern food, and tasting local craft beers.